Cleveland leads Tennessee in job growth as unemployment declines in most area counties

Cleveland leads Tennessee in job growth as unemployment declines in most area counties

December 23rd, 2016 by Dave Flessner in Business Around the Region

Job-seekers fill out applications during a job fair with Volkswagen staffing contractor Aerotek held at the Volkswagen Manufacturing Plant on Friday, Dec. 16, 2016, in Chattanooga, Tenn. Aerotek is hiring to fill production slots for manufacturing Volkswagen's new Atlas SUV.

Photo by Doug Strickland /Times Free Press.

Job-seekers apply during a job fair with Volkswagen staffing contractor Aerotek held at the Volkswagen Manufacturing Plant on Friday, Dec. 16, 2016, in Chattanooga, Tenn. Aerotek is hiring to fill production slots for manufacturing Volkswagen's new Atlas SUV.

Job-seekers apply during a job fair with Volkswagen...

Photo by Doug Strickland /Times Free Press.

Jobless in November

In the 21-county Chattanooga region, unemployment fell last month in 19 counties and rose in only two.

Tennessee

- Bradley — 4 percent, down 0.5 percent

- Hamilton — 4 .6 percent, down 0.4 percent

- Coffee — 4.7 percent, down 0.2 percent

- Franklin — 5 percent, down 0.4 percent

- Polk — 5.1 percent, down 0.7 percent

' McMinn — 5.4 percent, down 0.3 percent

' Sequatchie — 5.7 percent, down 0.5 percent

- Van Buren — 5.7 percent, down 0.3 percent

- Meigs — 6.3 percent, down 0.2 percent

- Marion — 6.4 percent, down 0.1 percent

- Bledsoe — 6.7 percent, up 0.1 percent

- Grundy — 6.9 percent, down 0.4 percent

- Rhea — 7.8 percent, up 0.3 percent

Georgia

- Catoosa — 4.5 percent, down 0.3 percent

- Dade — 4.9 percent, down 0.2 percent

- Walker — 5.0 percent, down 0.3 percent

- Whitfield — 5.6 percent, down 0.2 percent

- Chattooga — 5.7 percent, down 0.2 percent

- Murray — 6.9 percent, down 0.1 percent

Alabama

- DeKalb — 5.8 percent, down 0.3 percent

- Jackson — 5.9 percent, down 0.4 percent

Sources: Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development, Georgia Department of Labor and Alabama Department of Labor

Cleveland, Tenn., continued to be the fastestgrowing metropolitan area in Tennessee for job growth over the past year, growing at a robust 15.7 percent rate in the 12 months ended in November.

The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development reported Thursday that metro Cleveland added 8,210 jobs in the past year, growing at a rate nearly nine times faster than the U.S. as a whole. The neighboring Chattanooga metropolitan area grew less than a third the rate of Cleveland, but Chattanooga still outpaced the statewide average and grew at more than twice the pace of the nation as a whole.

"We're seeing significant rates of job growth in many areas of Tennessee, especially in the Nashville area which is leading the state with the most number of new jobs added this year. But the fastest rate of growth is in Cleveland, which is really benefiting from growth in all areas and is one of the fastest-growing metro areas for job growth in the country," said Dr. Bill Fox, director of the Boyd Center for Business and Economic Research at the University of Tennessee.

The jobless rate in metro Cleveland fell last month by six tenths of a percentage point to 4.1 percent — the lowest rate since the 20-year low reached in May. Cleveland has capitalized on the biggest single manufacturing investment ever in Tennessee — the $2.5 billion Wacker Chemical plant slated for another $150 million expansion next year — as well as additions and expansions in recent years by Mars, Whirlpool, Polartec and Bayer, among others.

"We're obviously centrally located on I-75, but we also feel like we offer the advantages of a small town but are still close to a bigger city, Chattanooga," said Gary Farlow, president of the Cleveland/Bradley County Chamber of Commerce.

In metro Chattanooga, employment grew 4.7 percent in the past 12 months, adding a net 11,900 more jobs, to easily top the U.S. growth rate in jobs of 1.7 percent in the same period. Unemployment in the six-county Chattanooga metro area fell in November by 0.3 percentage points to 4.8 percent.

"It's going to be hard to sustain these growth rates next year, but we do expect Tennessee to continue to have a solid economy in 2017 and to continue to outpace the nation in economic growth," Fox said.

Chattanooga continues to benefit by the $900 million expansion of the Volkswagen assembly plant, which is adding another 600 jobs and a second vehicle to hit the market in 2017.

Despite the gains in metro Chattanooga and Cleveland, Tenn., however, metro Dalton just to the south recorded a slight job loss of 100 jobs in the past year. Last month, unemployment in Dalton declined two tenths of a percentage point from the previous month to 5.9 percent. But the jobless rate was still well above the 4.6 percent U.S. unemployment rate during November.

Contact Dave Flessner at dflessner@timesfreepress.com or at 423-757-6340.

 


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